Nigeria: Govt Urges Traditional, Religious Leaders to Reduce 10.2m Out-of-School Children

The federal government yesterday urged traditional rulers and religious leaders in Nigeria to join forces with the government in its efforts to reduce the high number of out-of-school children estimated at 10.2 million and myriads of other challenges besetting basic education in the country.

This is just as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called for an end to strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), while also demanding for return of all mission schools in the country to their original owners as a way to arrest the gradual erosion of values and morals in schools.

The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi and Secretary-General of CAN, Mr. Joseph Daramola, spoke in Abuja, at the one-day consultative meeting of the National Planning Committee on the 2022 National Personnel Audit (NPA) with religious leaders on the modalities for the conduct of NPA in all basic education institutions in Nigeria. The first phase of the school census exercise would commence on June 6, 2022, in the southern part of the country.

Bobboyi who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary (Services), Dr. Isiaka Kolawole, in his address, acknowledged the key role being played by traditional rulers and religious leaders in the implementation of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in the country, urging them to continue to collaborate with the government in addressing the challenge out-of-school children while ensuring quality basic education is delivered to the citizenry.

He also appealed to religious leaders whom he noted have many schools across the country, to support the NPA exercise, saying dearth of data on basic education was a major challenge to its implementation in Nigeria as education planners and decision-makers had to make do with data that is not up-to-date or outrightly falsified.

He said it was against this backdrop that the Commission with the State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Universal Basic Education Boards conducted national personal audits in 2006, 2010 and 2018, explaining that the 2018 exercise was more comprehensive as it covered all categories of public and private education institutions unlike the previous exercises that were limited to public schools only.

“We are in the process of conducting another personnel audit of all educational institutions in the country offering full or elements of basic education. This is for the purpose of collecting school data on enrolment, personnel, and facilities, among others.

“The importance of up-to-date, accurate and reliable data in the planning and implementation of educational programmes cannot be over-emphasised.

“Data enables us to plan effectively

towards systematic achievement of the educational objectives, track progress made, identify the strengths and

weaknesses of implementation strategies, and form the basis for making informed decisions,” he said.

The Deputy Executive Secretary (Technical) UBEC, and Chairman of the 2022 NPA National Planning Committee, Prof. Bala Zakari, solicited for the cooperation of religious leaders, especially in the area of mass mobilisation and sensitisation of the heads of their various schools nationwide in readiness for the exercise.

On his part, Daramola, while speaking at the consultative meeting, decried what he termed the gradual erosion of the nation’s cherish values and morals in schools with examination malpractice becoming a norm in many schools across the country.

He said it was unfortunate that it was no longer only students that were involved in examination malpractice, saying parents and teachers are also culprits.

He urged governments and regulatory authorities to be firm on issues of discipline.

“We commend the states that have given back the mission schools to the original owners. Government has failed to properly run the schools that is why everyone is yearning to have the schools back.

“We appeal to the government that they should return the mission schools both Christian and Muslims to the original owners to bring back morals.

“If morals are being taught in schools, armed robbery, brigandage, terrorists, and banditry would be a thing of the past. Parents too should stop rushing to schools for any slightest correction being made on their children,” he added.

On the lingering ASUU strike, the CAN scribe called on the federal government and the university lecturers to without further delay agree to end the industrial action.

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